Family Christmas traditions are a wonderful way to celebrate and add meaning to the holidays. Here are 25 Christmas traditions to start with your family this year! Incorporate a few or all of these holiday traditions into your family’s Christmas celebrations this year!
Updated September 2019
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25 Family Christmas Traditions
Celebrate Advent—Advent simply means “arrival” and it is the Christian tradition of celebrating and remembering the arrival of Jesus! Growing up my family celebrated Advent by lighting candles, reading Scripture about the Christmas story, and singing off-key Christmas carols around the table. There are many different kinds of advent calendars and count down options (Legos! Eric Carle! Dark Chocolate!) perfect for your unique family!
Christmas carols and gift delivery–Load up the car and visit friends and neighbors homes a to sing Christmas carols and deliver small Christmas gifts. It’s helpful to have an on-key singer in the group, but not necessary. 😉 You can also do this at a nursing home or homeless shelter, a wonderful way to share the joy of Christmas in a simple way.
Kickoff Christmas — My friend Kellie has a Christmas tradition of giving Christmas pajamas the day after Thanksgiving which is also the day we choose our tree! I love the intentional start to the holiday season like this! And getting to enjoy Christmas jammies and the tree a little longer!
Cutting our own tree—Growing up we went hiking out into the frozen wasteland to find the perfect one. We have gone back and forth between real and fake trees depending on our family’s needs and seasons. But we love to hunt down
Decorating the tree to a favorite movie–This is my own little tradition where I decorate our tree while watching White Christmas. It makes the time fly and I love the mixing of two of my favorite Christmas traditions.
Decorating Christmas cookies—there was always lots of baking in our house growing up, but Grandma Conrad Christmas cookie baking is a necessity! Icing is best spread with your fingers, but don’t lick and dip! If you’re looking for some amazing Christmas cookie recipes here are a few ideas…
Christmas Eve gift—My husband’s family always opened one gift on Christmas Eve which was generally a movie or game the family played together!
Christmas Eve pajamas — Along with the movie or board game gift we give our kids new Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve. I love everyone matching or at least coordinating for Christmas morning!
Christmas traditions around the world — Choose a different country and celebrate their customs, bake their goodies and cook their specialty dinner…not only a learning experience, but so much fun! Love this tradition that my friend Tracy shared! Here is a great place to get started with discovering Christmas traditions from around the world.
Buying an Annual Ornament—We always got an annual Christmas ornament growing up to hang on the tree. In ‘95 it was a house with a bell, one year my grandma made us all angels, the year we traveled to Maine we got lighthouses like the one we visited.
When we moved out we took our box of Christmas ornaments and memories with us. Nate and I are keeping us this tradition with a new commemorative ornament each year. This year we got a sweet sea turtle ornament to remember our amazing St. John vacation!
White Elephant Exchange–At our extended family gathering now that we’ve done away with gifts, for the last 4 years we’ve done a naughty/nice white elephant exchange. You may get something great or you may get a creepy clown!
Enjoy non-traditional food—Nate and I have non-traditional food for our main Christmas day meal! We voted on the menu when we were newlyweds! Our menu includes perfectly grilled steak and cheesecake. It’s a very good tradition. Others like to do only brunch food on Christmas or make homemade Chinese food or just eat Christmas cookies for breakfast!
Christmas lights with a twist—A lot of people drive around and look at Christmas lights, but when my friend Carra’s family does it they prepare a small gift for the house their family votes has the best lights and then deliver to the family’s doorstep with a Christmas card!
Hide a Pickle Ornament on the tree—I just think this old German tradition is plain fun! Hide the pickle, rehide the pickle, all in good fun. It doesn’t have to be a pickle either….How fun would it be to use this Olaf ornament?
Non-traditional gift giving—So this is the sweetest thing my brother and sister-in-law started doing: they have their girls pick out a gift from Compassion International or Heifer to give to someone in need. You can read more about it on their blog, but my niece is the cutest and picked to give a mom and baby food for a month. Precious!
A book a night–Collect 25 Christmas books, wrap them up, and unwrap one a day leading up to Christmas. We are working on expanding our Christmas book collection, here are a few of our favorites and recommended titles!
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (guaranteed to make you weep!)
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- Apple Tree Christmas
- Christmas in the manger (great for little hands!)
- Charlie and the Christmas Kitty (love anything by Ree Drummond!)
- A Birthday Party for Jesus
- The Christmas Promise (love this series of books, Tales that Tell the Truth!)
- The Polar Express
- The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story
- The Night Before Christmas
Volunteer together–Whether filling a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, buying presents for a family in need, baking a plate of cookies for someone who doesn’t normally get them, or volunteering at a local charity– a wonderful Christmas tradition is showing kindness together at Christmas!
Visit a Christmas light show–Christmas light shows are entertaining for all ages to walk or drive through and often involve Christmas music too!
Sleep under the tree— My friend, Melissa and her husband started a new tradition when they got married of camping out on Christmas Eve under the Christmas tree! Another friend also said their family dragged mattresses to the Christmas tree, read books and ate cookies all night long! So magical and fun!
Christmas parades — Christmas parades are a fun way to kick off the Christmas season in your hometown. Dress warmly for optimal enjoyment!
Making Christmas gifts — Creating simple gifts for family and friends is a great way to celebrate Christmas! One year I made crocheted scarves for my nieces and last year I finished a cloth Nativity for my kids to play with right in time for Christmas. Creating heartfelt, homemade gifts is a wonderful Christmas tradition.
Small town traditions — Every year our town in Michigan had a Wassailing event where the downtown businesses host open houses with hot drinks, snacks, crafts, Christmas carolers, even reindeer! It’s such a fun event…find a fun Christmas event in your town and make it part of your family Christmas traditions.
Christmas movie marathon — Grab all your blankets and camp out in front of the tv with popcorn and hot chocolate for a Christmas movie marathon! We love a ton of Christmas movies but these are some of our favorite family Christmas movies!
Attend a Christmas play, live nativity, musical, or concert–There are so many amazing and low cost ones out there put on by churches, schools, civic theaters, and orchestras. I love watching little kids acting in cutesy church programs, but am also totally swept away in the epic nature of Handel’s Messiah or a holiday pops concert.
Tickets to a Christmas event is a great non-toy Christmas gift for your kids too! We had an amazing time going to The Nutcracker last year with our daughters and the girls in our family as part of our Christmas gift from her grandparents.
I feel so warm and fuzzy thinking about Christmas traditions! It makes me so happy to think of so many different families gathering together to make memories, celebrate Jesus’ birth, practice kindness, and celebrate the holidays in their own unique way!
What are your family’s favorite Christmas traditions?
Some other Christmas posts that might interest you…
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